You won’t stay clean by living dirty – kind of paradoxical huh? Staying sober, in one form or another, has a lot more attention to detail than most realize. This is where the politics of sobriety and recovery come in. Firstly, there are loads of people out there in recovery that don’t practice what we like to call “working an honest program”. This fundamental statement is a little more complex than it sounds. To be working an honest program means to be honest in all areas of your life. This means not just excluding the little daily white lies we tell people for no reason, but also being a person of integrity. Now we’re cooking a little bit. Integrity in my eyes is doing the same things behind closed doors as you would in front of people. Examples of this would be not stealing, cheating, or being abusive, etc.  Almost anything that would go against our society’s morals. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going on a religious tirade right now. By all means, we all sin (as it’s put), but I don’t foresee that ending anytime soon. What I am saying though is there are general guidelines and boundaries to being a “good person”, quote-unquote. Following the strategy of being a good person is how one maintains their sobriety. It is a constant conscious effort, but it’s worth it to help people like I stay clean.

A Relapse of the Mind

So when it comes to sobriety and the various deviations of programs, it is proven time and time again that the practice of relapsing starts way before the actual act is performed. More times than not, a relapse will show up when we have been entertaining some form of negativity in our heads. It all starts in the mind. How often I see things going in fantastic directions for people, and then our dear ole friend complacency comes for a visit. Then after that takes hold, we start to lose gratitude, or we start taking things for granted. We start getting irritated about little things and our days begin to kind of seem boring and mundane. It’s amazing how quickly this cycle of mindset can appear. Before we know it, life takes hold and just starts to become this dull task that we have to struggle through every day. This is all coming from personal experience, as well as detailed accounts from an assortment of people in the rooms.  Stress begins to build up and all appreciation goes out the window.

Once this frame of mind takes place, then the case of “screw its” comes along. Before we can blink, bada bing bada boom, we start finding ourselves associating with people not conducive to our recoveries and visiting places we have no business attending. You see the pattern here? I’m sure that it seems familiar or is understandable at least. When it comes to staying clean and not living dirty, a lot of it is perspective and the mindset we give ourselves. The brain is quite a powerful gift, and tricky tool if used properly. The idea behind this phrase you won’t stay clean by living dirty is to be proactive and catch ourselves in the act of this stinking thinking.

woman lying, not being honest

The Simple Solution

So what’s one to do to prevent this type of mentality you ask? Well it’s quite trouble-free and effortless once we get to the destination. When we’re living dirty, we have tinted windows over our thinking. We see things in a selfish perspective, only moving and breathing to take care of number one- our own selves. Aside from practicing honesty, which is an extremely crucial part, there is more that comes to this if we truly want to make it and stay on the greener side of the grass. Being selfless is one of the most fortuitous things we can do in this world. Everybody feels good when we help somebody out with pure intentions and no ulterior motives. It’s just a thing. It brings warm emotions and happy thoughts that envelop you. I mean for one, it goes with the golden rule of treating others how you would like to be treated. Two, some don’t like to admit it, but everybody needs help in this life.

Nobody understands life. Even the ninety-nine year old man in his decadent ways full of a lifetime of wisdom doesn’t have the secret recipe down. However, said elderly gentleman did part with some advice for being selfless and how he made it to such a ripe age. This man was indeed a recovering alcoholic of fifty plus years and happier than can be. He enlightened the room of people explaining that he was happiest when sharing his happiness and help through others. “Life is like a table of different mugs and glasses. Your job is to keep those glasses full. But in order to keep those full, you have to keep your pitcher full.” This is the best analogy, for it teaches that a balance is needed to be found. We can’t just love ourselves and look out for our own behinds. There must be a healthy equilibrium of helping ourselves while we help others. Balance is the key to sobriety. We have a choice to be scummy, or to be the reason somebody puts a smile on their face. There’s light and darkness in everybody, it’s all just a matter of the production you yearn to put on.

Know Somebody Struggling?

It’s no secret that we all have our inner demons. Unfortunately, some people need to be pushed in the right direction to build the courage to face said demons. They can be intimidating, but well worth the battle. If you or somebody you know is struggling to overcome the monsters of addiction or alcoholism, please call us at Guardian Intensive Outpatient toll-free 855-517-1871. We’re available anytime- sunshine or moonlight, and are more than thrilled to help you or your loved one. After all, helping is what it’s all about.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.